ANAHEIM, Calif. - You can call it an uncanny coincidence or divine intervention, but on a night when Kobe Bryant was remembered before the Anaheim Ducks faced the Arizona Coyotes, Carter Rowney did something extraordinary.
The centre — who wears No. 24 — scored a short-handed goal on Anaheim's 24th shot in its 24th home game to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead with 46 seconds remaining in the second period Wednesday. Reverse that final score and it also matches Bryant's uniform No. 24, one of two numbers he wore during his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. The other was No. 8.
“For that to happen, I'm not sure what to believe sometimes when it comes to religion and things like that, but I do wonder if that happened by accident or was that part of the night? I get goosebumps standing here and talking about it,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said after his team's 4-2 victory.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and the seven others killed in Sunday's helicopter crash in Southern California were remembered before the game with 24 seconds of silence. “Kobe! Kobe!” chants broke out at the end of the salute and a couple of times during the game when fans were shown wearing his jersey.
“It's definitely weird. It was a cool thing to see it go up there and whoever figured that out deserves a raise,” said Derek Grant, who had an assist on Rowney's goal.
Grant stole the puck from Oliver Ekman-Larsson behind the net. Grant's shot went off goalie Antti Raanta's blocker, but Rowney buried the rebound for his sixth goal of the season. It was Anaheim's ninth short-handed goal this season, third-most in the NHL.
Adam Henrique scored twice and Hampus Lindholm also had a goal for the Ducks, who have won three of four. Grant added two assists and John Gibson stopped 25 shots.
Henrique, who leads the Ducks with 17 goals, got the go-ahead score with 3:51 remaining in the first period. Ondrej Kase made a spin move and dished the puck to Henrique in front, setting up the centre for his third multi-goal game of the season.
“You want to play with the lead, and you want to keep pushing. I thought we did a good job after getting the lead, coming back and getting the next one to get back up by two. It was big for us,” Henrique said.
Arizona's third line was responsible for its offence. Vinnie Hinostroza and Lawson Crouse each had a goal and an assist, while Nick Schmaltz had two assists. Raanta made 28 saves for the Coyotes, who have dropped their last three.
“You know, we gave them two or three goals, and chasing the game. We needed a little bit more from the veterans tonight,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said.
Henrique opened the scoring at 5:39 when Troy Terry's shot deflected off his right skate past Raanta. The goal was set up when Terry intercepted a cross-ice pass from Alex Goligoski at the red line, skated into the Arizona zone and fired a shot from just outside the left circle.
Hinostroza tied it 99 seconds later with a wrist shot off an odd-man rush. It was the forward's fifth goal but his first in 26 games.
Lindholm extended Anaheim's lead to 3-1 at 5:25 of the second with a slap shot from near the blue line. The defenceman has a point in three straight games but it was only his second goal of the season.
Crouse brought the Coyotes back within a goal when his backhand shot deflected off Gibson's blocker with 3:59 remaining in the second for his 12th.
NOTES: The Ducks went 2-1-1 in the season series. ... Anaheim RW Jakob Silfverberg returned to the lineup after the birth of his daughter. ... Arizona is second in the league in road points (31) but has dropped its last four away from home.
Coyotes: Begin a four-game homestand Thursday against Los Angeles.
Ducks: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
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